December 17th

Some of the best gifts in the world are free. Especially in the era of the pandemic, our outdoor spaces – including our own backyards – are gifts that keep on giving. The outdoors continues to be a safe place to gather with friends and family (be sure to social distance). Our own personal patch of nature also offers a space to de-stress and unplug.

The gift of spending time outdoors is free, easy to access and available all year round. Here are 4 ways to enjoy the gifts of nature this holiday season.

  • Look for wildlife. Nature starts at your own backdoor. Your backyard supports biodiversity and is an urban wildlife habitat all year long. Pollinators, insects and small mammals rely on your yard as part of the connected ecosystem. What critters are in your yard this winter?
  • Notice the different kinds of plants in your yard. Your backyard has purpose. It’s a canvas for creativity and physical activity, acts as an outdoor living room and is a safe place for pets and kids to play. Take your family outside to assess your space. What does the winter landscape look like, and how is it different from what you saw in spring and summer? What can you plan now to do together in your backyard this spring? There is no time like the present to plan and prepare!
  • Explore a neighborhood park. Community green space is an extension of your own patch of nature. Take the family to your neighborhood park to go on a nature scavenger hunt. Or, seek out a new park that you haven’t been to before. Take along the family dog, too! They love to sniff new areas.
  • Get outside, even in the cold. Being outside in the wintertime requires your body to work harder to keep you warm. Consequently, you burn more calories. Engage in a friendly snowball fight with your kids or take a walk with Fido to the park to rev up your metabolism and have a little fun – and get a healthy dose of vitamin N(ature) at the same time.

Being an “outsider” by exploring and appreciating nature – starting in our own backyards and community green spaces – reduces stress, improves memory, boosts heart health and offers a host of other benefits for our minds and bodies. Now that’s a gift worth giving and receiving!

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